The rise of short lets in London

James Thornett discusses why short lets are becoming increasingly popular for both landlords and tenants in London

To many people, renting a property in London has always meant a fairly long term commitment, with the landlord and the tenant signing up to a 12 month tenancy (sometimes with the ability to terminate from the sixth month point onward).  However, in today’s much more transient and flexible world, the market for shorter term tenancies, so called ‘short lets’, is greater than ever before.

Short lets can range from anything from a few weeks up to six months, and are designed to offer ultimate flexibility, minimum commitment and ease of use.  Compared to a traditional let, short lets will offer a far quicker application process (no references are necessary as all rent is paid up front), the property will be totally ready to move in to, literally turn up with a suitcase, as you can expect a fully equipped property ‘ready to go’.  As a tenant there will be no bills to pay, because the landlord will include these in the rent.  Rents will be higher than those for traditional long lets both because they include the utility bills and also to account for the fact that the property may face more vacant periods over a year than traditional lets.  Expect to pay a premium of between 50 and 100%, however this is still considerably cheaper than a hotel!

We have seen a huge variety of short let tenants over the years, including people refurbishing their current property, people trying out a new area of London for a short time, those looking to bridge between two properties when buying or selling, holiday makers or business travellers preferring an authentic London property instead of a faceless hotel.  We’ve also seen a lot of people working in short term work contracts in the capital who do not want to sign up for a tenancy for any longer than their employment is guaranteed. 

If the advantage for tenants is flexibility and ease of use, short lets appeal to property owners for a variety of reasons.  Many will be able to short let their properties for periods of a few months where they can’t commit to longer, for example if moving away with work for a short secondment.  Or perhaps their property is on the market for sales and the idea of generating a rental income for a short time appeals.  We have some clients who short let their London pied a terre while not using it themselves.

As a landlord It is essential to engage the services of a professional lettings agent who is experienced in dealing with short lets.  We have a dedicated property management department who are experienced in managing the process.  We would advise paying particular attention to any local authority rules with respect to shorter term lets, and it would also be sensible to enlist the management of the property during the term to an experienced agent who will have the ability to deal with any maintenance request around the clock – which would be expected given the premium rents paid and the fact that for many the property will be an alternative to a hotel.